Clay Shaw trial: Closing arguments by Irvin Dymond, continued
Gentlemen, getting on with the State's case, I had mentioned that I felt that there seven facets to this case. I would like to go down the line on these facets and analyze them, see what has been shown and what hasn't been shown. The first one that we will touch upon is Clinton, Louisiana.
Let me first say that you have here a group of witnesses who come forward some five years after an alleged happening back in 1963, and out of a one-man lineup, which is what it amounted to, identified this Defendant, Clay Shaw, as someone whom they had seen in Clinton. Now I am not going to bore you with what each one of these witnesses said, but just let me point out a couple of discrepancies here that I think should be considered.
You have one man saying that he had a hat on, another one saying he did not have a hat on -- the same day. The one that said he did have a hat on supposedly identified him by his gray hair. One of these witnesses said that he had a white shirt on, the other said he had a dark shirt on. One of the witnesses could not even tell you whether the care was parked to the right or to the left as you came out of the Voter Registration Office. And how do all of these witnesses happen to remember this particular day? I doubt that you remember, gentlemen, because it seemed insignificant at the time. They knew that it was right in late August or early September because it was cold, they had a fire and it was really a nice cool day.
If you will remember, gentlemen, we put into evidence the records of the United States Weather Bureau, we had the weatherman testify here that during that entire period there was one day, gentlemen -- one day! -- when the high was under 90 degrees, it went down to 89 or 88 on that one day. Gentlemen, I think that it is appropriate, in view of the fact that we are dealing here with eye-witness identification, as we lawyers call it, and as I call this particular one awfully stale, weak eye-witness identification, that I read to you what Justice Brennan of the United States Supreme Court had to say in quoting Justice Frankfurter in regard to eye-witness identification.
This is read from the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of United States vs. Wade, which was decided in 1967. This, gentlemen, is written by a Supreme Court Justice, as are all Supreme Court Opinions, which someone who of necessity knows his way around courtrooms, knows what types of testimony are dependable, what types should be case aside; "The vagaries of eye-witness identification are well known. The annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification. Mr. Justice Frankfurter once said (and here is where he goes on to quote him): 'What is the worth of identification testimony even when uncontradicted? The identification of strangers is proverbially untrustworthy. The hazards of such testimony are established by a formidable number of instances in the records of English and American trials. These instances are recent, not due to the brutalities of ancient criminal procedure. The case of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, a major factor contributing to the high incidence of miscarriage of justice from mistaken identification, has been the degree of suggestion inherent in the manner in which the prosecution present the suspect to witnesses for pretrial identification.'"
That, gentlemen, will call your attention to the one-man lineup deal that we had. A commentator has observed that the influence of improper suggestion upon identifying witnesses probably accounts for more miscarriages of justice than any other single factor. Perhaps it is responsible for more such errors than all other factors combined.
"With all eye-witness identification in criminal cases, suggestion can be created intentionally or unintentionally in many subtle ways, and the dangers for the suspect are particularly grave when the witness's opportunity for observation was insubstantial and thus his susceptibility to suggestion the greatest. Moreover, it is a matter of common experience that once a witness has picked out the accursed at the lineup, he is not likely to go back on his word later on. So that in practice the issue of identity may in the absence of other relevant evidence for all practical purposes be determined then and there before the trial."
I thought, gentlemen, it was appropriate to read that to you to aid you in evaluating these Clinton, Louisiana, witnesses. However, we will also ask that you consider the witnesses which the Defendant put on in this pageant.
We brought before you Mr. Lloyd C. Cobb. Gentlemen, I can unhesitatingly say that no one who knows Mr. Cobb would argue with the fact that he is one of the leading citizens of New Orleans, a man who would not dream of getting on that witness stand and lying, perjuring himself for anybody or anything. Mr. Cobb testified to you that during this same period when this Defendant was supposed to be running around the countryside up to Clinton, Louisiana, running up there with David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald, who-have-you, that Mr. Cobb and this Defendant, Clay Shaw, were engaged in perhaps the three or four busiest months in the lives of either one of them.
Now, gentlemen, this was not something that Mr. Cobb had to call on his memory for in order to determine the dates. He has his leases, he knew when they were negotiating these leases, he knew when his deadline was, and I am sure that when you heard the testimony of Mr. Cobb that he knew where Clay Shaw was during every working day -- and this had to be a working day up in Clinton, the barbershops were open, the Voter Registration Office was open -- that you knew that it was absolutely ridiculous to believe that this man would be running up to Clinton for any purpose, or that he could have done it and not have been missed by Mr. Cobb.
Now, this testimony was corroborated by that of Miss Goldie Moore, Mr. Cobb's secretary while he was in the Trade Mart. I recall Miss Moore goofed a bit on the dates. As you undoubtedly noticed, she had the dates mixed up as to when this busy period was. She was one month off. But, gentlemen, that doesn't change the picture. There is no way in the world that this Defendant could have been in Clinton, Louisiana, when the State claims that he was there, unless Lloyd Cobb is lying, Goldie Moore is lying, and Clay Shaw is lying. Now, if you can conclude that on the basis of the type of identification that we had from Clinton, more power to you. I don't see how you can.
We go on, gentlemen, from the Clinton episode to this deal with Vernon Bundy on the Lakefront. Now, gentlemen, Mr. Alcock said that he would not apologize to you for having put Bundy on the witness stand. Well, let me say that now I as an officer of the Court will apologize to you for your having been subjected to him. And I mean that. Gentlemen, this fantastic story that this convicted thief, this admitted liar, this inveterate and veteran narcotics addict, told on this witness stand is worthy of Alice in Wonderland.
Let's look at it. Let's consider something that Mr. Alcock -- something else that he said in his opening argument. He told you that when Bundy was sitting out on that seawall that he had only two things in mind: shooting those narcotics and avoiding arrest, and that is why he was able to look right at Mr. Shaw and be sure of his identification.
Gentlemen, Mr. Alcock is right. Narcotics addicts are very properly in fear of arrest when they are fooling with narcotics, and it is absolutely beyond the belief of any reasonable man that Vernon Bundy, this man who has been taking junk since he was 13 year old, by his own testimony, that Vernon Bundy, who was living in a 25-room house, would leave the security and safety of his own home, the security and safety of his own bathroom where he could flush the toilet, flush the dope down the toilet if the police came, and where the police probably wouldn't come anyway, and carry this dope out to a public place out on the seawall at the Lakefront to shoot dope.
Gentlemen, that is absolutely fantastic, it is absolutely beyond belief! And then what else does this witness say? If you will recall -- let me back up just a little bit. The State is probably going to get up here and answer that last statement of mine by saying that Bundy didn't want his family to find out that he was fooling with narcotics, or that his mother knew it already and it aggravated his mother, therefore he didn't want to. Gentlemen, I just ask you to ask yourselves, would Bundy have rather been caught by his mother or would he rather have had a police officer walk up on him and arrest him? It is not even close.
Now let's get on to the other completely unbelievable point in Bundy's testimony. Bundy, if you will recall, under cross-examination by me admitted that there was at least a mile of vacant seawall in each direction from where he was shooting this dope. Now, with two miles of vacant seawall there, gentlemen, Bundy tells you that this Defendant picked the very spot where he, Bundy, is sitting to meet with Lee Harvey Oswald to turn over money to Oswald. The implication is that at that time they were probably planning to kill the President. Gentlemen, what is the matter with some spot in one direction or the other? That doesn't make sense. Now, gentlemen, getting on a little further with this fellow, Bundy, and again calling your attention to Mr. Alcock's correct statement of the law that if anybody testifies falsely, and so forth, let me remind you that this man is a convicted thief, and that he lied on that witness stand and got caught in his own lie.
If you will recall, I asked him on cross-examination where he got his money for this narcotic habit, and he had the temerity to sit on that stand and tell you that he got it from his job as a presser and some little money from his grandmother. Bundy, unfortunately for him, gentlemen, had forgotten about his testimony on the preliminary hearing. I asked him whether he stole to satisfy this habit when he testified here. Oh, no, he didn't. He'd forgot that on the preliminary hearing he had admitted to me under cross-examination that he stole regularly to satisfy this habit. I confronted him with his testimony, and he said, "Oh, yes, if somebody left something there I would pick it up." That is not stealing.
Gentlemen, this is another one, another one in the parade of unfit witnesses that the State has trotted out before you and on the basis of whose testimony they are asking you to return a verdict of conviction. You can just stand them in line. Spiesel was there first, and Bundy can now take his place right alongside of him, but for a different reason.
Now, gentlemen, I won't go at length into the Spiesel testimony. Frankly, I wouldn't insult your intelligence by doing so. Suffice it to say that we can add just one more little impossibility to this story, and that is, here we have Spiesel in a roup of complete strangers, people who have never seen him before, and they are going to plan to kill the President right in front of him. That makes a great deal of sense, too.
We come now, gentlemen, to the mailman incident, the testimony of Hardiman. Very frankly, gentlemen, I don't quite understand this old gentleman's testimony. I will be perfectly frank with you. I cannot in sincerity stand here and tell you I think he was lying. I think the old man thought he was telling the truth. But I can also with equal sincerity tell you that he was 100 percent dead flat wrong. I think that the key to his error can be found in the completely fictitious name which I gave to him. On cross-examination in trying to find out just whether the knew what he was talking about, I said, "Mr. Hardiman, do you remember having delivered any mail to Cliff Boudreaux at that address?"
He said, "Yes, I do."
I said, "Well, have you delivered any mail to Cliff Boudreaux within the last six months?"
He said, "Yes, I have."
Well, gentlemen, as you learned when Mr. Jeff Biddision took the witness stand, there just wasn't any such person as Cliff Boudreaux, and I can tell you right now that Clif Boudreaux came from right here (tapping forehead) just like Clay Bertrand came from Dean Andrews's head.
From that we see that had there been a person named Clif Boudreaux, had there been a person whose alias was Clif Boudreaux, had he been in the same spot that Clay Shaw finds himself right now, Mr. Hardiman would have been willing to testify that he had received mail in the name of Clif Boudreaux at that address, which is identically the same thing.
I tell you again in all sincerity, I don't think the old man was lying when he told me that he had delivered mail to Clif Boudreaux; I think he thought he was telling the truth, but God knows it is obvious that he wasn't.
Now, we don't have to rely entirely upon this trick of cross-examination which I used to rebut the testimony of Mr. Hardiman. We presented to you a witness of the highest caliber, a top-flight witness, in Mr. Jeff Biddison. Jeff Biddison has been a friend of Clay Shaw's for many years. As a matter of fact, I think Mr. Alcock tried to belittle his testimony by commenting upon that. I will ask you right now in passing, gentlemen, don't some of you men have friends of twenty years' standing? I am sure you do. But does that mean that you would get on that witness stand and raise your hand to God and tell a lie for him if he were charged in a criminal case? I don't think so. I wouldn't.
Now, what does Jeff Biddison tell you? Jeff Biddison told you that he received all of the mail that came for Clay Shaw, that he picked up all of the mail at his own home there, and that there was no Clem Bertrand mail, gentlemen. Now, who is in a better position to know -- Mr. Biddison, who lived there, or Mr. Hardiman, who had perhaps 700 or 800 houses on his route three years ago? I might also mention in that connection, gentlemen, that if there were anything at all to the State's case, if Clay Shaw had conspired under the name Clay or Clem Bertrand, to murder President Kennedy, by any stretch of the imagination can you think that by 1966 he wouldn't have quit using that name? Remember, by that time the Warren Report had come out, the name "Bertrand" had been made an issue, Dean Andrews had testified before the Warren Commission, people knew of Clem Bertrand and Clay Bertrand. Does it make sense that this man would still be going around by the name of Clem Bertrand if he had done that? Gentlemen, if he would, I think the State is wrong in trying to send him to Angola, they ought to send him to Jackson.
Gentlemen, next we come to Facet Number Five of the State's case. That is the trip to the West Coast by Clay Shaw. The State would have you believe that this was planned far in advance, that Mr. Shaw was going to go out to the West Coast so as to have an alibi. You were shown the correspondence that was introduced into evidence, you were told when the arrangements for this speaking trip were made, you were shown the pamphlet of the actual meeting at which he was to speak. The State got real sinister on this deal in their opening statement, and they told you that they were going to show that the same travel agency that arranged this trip arranged for Lee Oswald to go to Russia. That was the last I heard of it, gentlemen. I don't know what happened to that evidence. But, frankly, I don't know of what significance it would have been anyway.
Now, the absolutely ridiculous part about this contention that this perfectly legitimate speaking trip was actually, as the State would claim, an overt act in a conspiracy, is this: If you are here in New Orleans, why are you going to go out to the West Coast to get an alibi for a crime that is being committed in Dallas? Once again, gentlemen, it doesn't add up. No earthly reason.
Now we come to the VIP Room out in the Eastern Air Lines' section of the Moisant Airport. Gentlemen, before we get to talking about handwriting experts on this, let's first touch lightly upon what the State contends happened here. First of all, the time, December 14, 1966. President Kennedy murdered, the name Clay Bertrand made public by the Warren Commission, played up in the New Orleans newspapers because of Dean Andrews. Clay Shaw goes out to the airport with somebody else, goes into the VIP Room for no purpose other than to sign his name "Clay Bertrand" in the VIP book. Once again, gentlemen, that would be the act of a complete lunatic, if you are to believe the State's case. On top of that, what does Jessie Parker do but refuse or fail to identify Claw Shaw when she is brought out here and he is pointed out to her in the courtroom.
Then, gentlemen, we come to the question of handwriting experts. Let me say before we get off on this one that it has to be obvious to you by now the amount of money that the State has spent on this case. The things that you have been shown here don't come cheap. You don't get the slides and exhibits and the expert testimony that has been presented here for peanuts, ladies and gentlemen. That being the case, and with the obvious availability of funds, can anybody make any man on this Jury believe that the State hadn't tried to confirm Jessie Parker's statement by an expert in the field of handwriting before they called that woman yesterday?
Gentlemen, I don't know what it would take to make me believe that, but it would have to be [text missing]. The answer is they had to have tried other experts and could not get one to say what they wanted him to say -- that's the reason they finally found a last-minute killing.
[Text missing -- Charles Appel] . . . is one of the foremost handwriting experts in our country. Gentlemen, he served for many years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as head of their department of handwriting analysis. Now, I knew when we brought him down here that we were going to step into a buzzsaw as soon as he said Federal Bureau of Investigation, because, as you know, the State is going to try to make you believe that we have bunch of boogiemen, a bunch of real culprits (in) the FBI, the Secret Service, every governmental agency that you can name. Be that as it may, Gentlemen, this man hasn't been with the FBI since 1948. The State tries to tell you that he had a fixed opinion before he came down here. He didn't say that. You heard what he said from the witness stand. He said that he volunteered to come down here without charge when he found out that we didn't have the money to pay for an expert. And why was he willing to do it? He was willing to do it in the interest of justice, gentlemen. Now, can you doubt his qualifications? Could he have held the jobs that he has held, been with the FBI as long as he was, unqualified? No. Can you doubt his truthfulness and sincerity, doubt the truthfulness and sincerity of a man who leaves down here for nothing, out of a sense and spirit of justice? I submit to you, gentlemen, that this man gave you a good analysis of that handwriting, he gave you a firm opinion that that was not Clay Shaw's writing. The lady wouldn't go that far, she said that there is a great probability that it is, after her makeshift examination. I leave that one with you, gentlemen, and I don't have any doubt as to what you will think of the VIP book.
Gentlemen, I think that this is an appropriate place to mention Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Tadin, the two witnesses who took the stand yesterday evening as a team and stated to you that they had seen Clay Shaw out at the Lakefront Airport in the company of David Ferrie. Well, now, I have several comments to make on this, gentlemen. First of all, you would be justified in asking me whether I think these two people are lying or whether I think they are mistaken. I don't know. I think they are probably mistaken. I don't know why they should lie, if they are lying, but I will say this, that whatever the husband is doing, the wife is doing the same thing. That poor woman was scared to death when she got on that witness stand. She said, "I came here because my husband told me to." And, frankly, I don't blame her. If a girl had a husband who walks around, talks about hitting people in the jaw with two-by-fours, I can well understand her fear. But let's just analyze now the testimony of these two people.
First of all, how do they say that they saw Mr. Shaw in Ferrie's company? They see Ferrie walk out of the hangar and three feet behind him comes Clay Shaw. They ask Ferrie was this a new student that you have a Shaw is walking over. Ferrie said no, that is my friend, Clay Shaw. Gentlemen, remember that all the recognition was on the part of David Ferrie there. Whether he, knowing Mr. Shaw to be a prominent man, was trying to impress his student's family, I don't know, but I will have a lot more to say on this.
First of all, you must realize, it has to be clear to you, that this case would have been much, much safer to defend by saying that Clay Shaw knew David Ferrie. Mr. Shaw has had us as his lawyers -- and I pride ourselves on not being stupid. don't you know that we realized when I got up here before you and told you that Clay Shaw had never laid eyes on these people, that we realized that there was always a possibility of someone coming forth like this and claiming to have seen them together? There is no doubt about that, but our defense, gentlemen, has been based on truth, it has been based on truth from scratch. And Shaw did not get up there on the stand and I did not get up before you and tell you that he knew David Ferrie, because he did not know him. The point that I am making is that if he did know him, our defense wouldn't have been any different in this case. It would have been a lot safer, yes, but what you must remember is this, that for you to even consider the testimony of these two Tadin people, what do you have to do? You have to accept the testimony of Perry Raymond Russo. And, gentlemen, if you can accept that, it is beyond me. If you don't accept that, what difference does the Tadins' testimony make? None at all.
Once again, gentlemen, I would point out that we are talking about -- the Tadins -- 1964, which is less than a year after the assassination. Do you think for one moment that if Mr. Clay Shaw had conspired with Ferrie and Oswald to murder the President, that he would have been seen out at a public airport with one of the co-conspirators after the meeting? No way. Do you think for one moment -- and I ask you this assuming that some of you gentlemen know something about this Lakefront Airport -- that had Mr. Shaw been out there with Ferrie at a crowded airport like this airport is, that other people wouldn't have seen him and come forth? I think it is inconceivable to think that they wouldn't have.
Now, before I leave the testimony of the Tadins, gentlemen, let me remind you again that these people came forth -- when? -- yesterday morning. Why did they come forth not until yesterday morning? Because they didn't want to get involved. I cannot buy their testimony, gentlemen.
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